208 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 26 halftones, appends., bibl., index
Moses Grandy, John Newland Maffitt, and the Coming of the Civil War
In Two Captains from Carolina, Bland Simpson twines together the lives of two accomplished nineteenth-century mariners from North Carolina--one African American, one Irish American. Though Moses Grandy (ca. 1791- ca. 1850) and John Newland Maffitt Jr. (1819-1886) never met, their stories bring to vivid life the saga of race and maritime culture in the antebellum and Civil War-era South. With his lyrical prose and inimitable voice, Bland Simpson offers readers a grand tale of the striving human spirit and the great divide that nearly sundered the nation.
Grandy, born a slave, captained freight boats on the Dismal Swamp Canal and bought his freedom three times before he finally gained it. He became involved in Boston abolitionism and ultimately appeared before the General Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843. As a child, Maffitt was sent from his North Carolina home to a northern boarding school, and at thirteen he was appointed midshipman in the U.S. Navy, where he had a distinguished career. After North Carolina seceded from the Union, he enlisted in the Confederate navy and became a legendary blockade runner and raider. Both Grandy and Maffitt made names for themselves as they navigated very different routes through the turbulent waters of antebellum America.
“Two Captains from Carolina is. . . an 'improving book' that offers real history in specific and captivating anecdotes.”
“Simpson makes you believe you are there, with Grandy and Maffitt, experiencing these significant moments of their lives. . . . Using historical fact [Simpson] becomes the storyteller. And he tells one helluva story.”
“Plump with facts and anectdotes.”
--Chatham County Line
“It is hard to see how anyone could bring these points of view [of Grandy and Maffitt] together in the same book, but Simpson, has done it in Two Captains from Carolina.”
--D. G. Martin, The Mountaineer
"Beautifully written, nicely illustrated, highly recommended."
--Gerry Prokopowicz, Host, Civil War Radio, World Talk Radio Network, May 24th, 2013
"Simpson's compelling portraits enrich our understanding of what life was like two centuries ago even as they address themes that are very much still with us today--race, poverty, hardship, and political and class conflict, to name a few."
--Jack Betts, retired associate editor of the Charlotte Observer
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